Virginia to Alaska and back on an '86 Yamaha Radian

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by ruffntuff, Oct 2, 2012.

  1. PlainClothesHippy

    PlainClothesHippy Waitin' for the revolution.

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    Anna, you make me feel like an inarticulate wuss, and I mean that in a most complimentary way. Your writing is captivating and your courage inspiring. Whatever path you choose in life, please keep writing. New to ADVrider, I found myself just going through forums to acquaint myself with the forums when "Radian" caught my eye (I lusted for the Radian at a time when I foolishly didn't justify owning a bike) and I opened the thread. I haven't checked out anything else since, but now that I finally reached point of having to wait for the next installment, maybe I can spend a little time doing what I originally intended to do here. I'm on the edge of my seat. Thank you for this amazing tale. I'm proud to make this my first post on this site.
    Dave (DaLunk)
  2. Belgradian

    Belgradian Been here awhile

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    Well done Anna!
  3. ruffntuff

    ruffntuff TUFRDR

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    Part 2 – Day 8
    July 7th, 2012
    Cloverdale – Oakland, CA: 90 miles

    There’s something about waking to the call of a rooster that makes me feel at home. I didn’t grow up on a farm, but I always wanted to. When I was in high school I spent nearly every weekend at my best friend’s farm in Louisa, just east of Charlottesville. They had a herd of angus cattle, a pot-belly pig named Rosie we liked to wrestle, a tough-ass blue heeler not to mess with, horses to ride, and of course chickens.

    I remember the sound of their rooster every morning. I remember the smell of leather and wood. I remember the popping of the fire heating that old farmhouse. We would make a bed on the floor next to it when it was too cold to sleep upstairs.

    I remember the creaky steps that made it challenging to sneak out at night and ride horses in the moonlight. We’d gallop bareback wearing ponchos through fields and trails, giggling cold breath from our smiles.

    Maybe this is why I feel so at home on Billy’s farm. I hear the rooster and it calls me back to those memories.

    We made breakfast with some fresh farm eggs, ripe avocado, and crispy bacon. It was hot outside and we sat on the steps of the front porch bathing in the sun while eating. It was going to be a nice ride to San Francisco.

    I took my time before leaving. It was only 90 miles to my friend Lena’s relative’s house in Oakland where I would be staying for the next six weeks while working at the San Francisco Zoo. The farm had me hooked and Billy too. I was not in a hurry and for once felt free of angst.

    We walked down to the goat and llama pasture, the goats eager for a pet but the llamas standoffish. We wandered to the river and got our feet wet in the cold but refreshing water while spotting osprey and hawks. As we headed back to the house all I could think was, “I don’t want to leave.”

    I packed the bike up slowly and when it finally came time for me to depart I hugged Billy and said, “I think it’s going to be a great summer.” He agreed with a smile and kiss.

    The ride to Oakland was warm and easy. I kept my vents open and wore just a tank top and biker shorts under my gear.

    I was a little nervous about riding into the big city however. I had heard about “The Maze” between Oakland and San Francisco where every road meets and traffic piles up. Missing your exit can be easy. I thoroughly wrote my directions down with a sharpie on paper displayed on my tank bag; however I found it difficult at times to look down for fear of all the other cars around.

    I slowly rolled through traffic baking in the sun with the lack of wind. Occasionally another motorcycle would go whizzing by with no effort between the lanes. I watched them with envy, wishing I had that confidence, not to mention the breeze.

    Splitting lanes is illegal on the east coast and rarely seen or done. You’d probably get killed if you tried because the cars aren’t used to it. I was amazed to see how the drivers in California make room for riders when they see them coming. Not only are they watching out for them, but they make room! That’s a level of respect I had never seen on the road for bikers.

    Although the thought of splitting lanes makes my butt clench, man was it tempting. I decided to refrain from such a skill I knew I had no experience with but was determined to learn and practice in the next six weeks.

    I finally rolled into Oakland and met Lena. We went to the grocery store to stock up for the week and had dinner at a nice vegan restaurant. It’s good to see an old friend from back east and remind me of my roots. Even though I’m happy to be staying with her rent free, it looks like my commute to the Zoo is going to be really far. I may have to figure something else out.

    We’ll check out the Bart and bus transportation tomorrow. I don’t think I’m ready to split lanes and ride the bike through San Francisco traffic just yet. Riding through The Maze once was enough for me. I know, I’m a wuss.

    I did call Billy though.
    “Would you come teach me to split lanes?” (big grin)

    “See you next weekend,” he said.
    ONandOFF likes this.
  4. dirtdreamer50

    dirtdreamer50 long time rider

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    Glad to see that the feel of your report has grown more joyous. Feels like the sadness and despair of the first half of the trip has been overcome by good memories and good friends. Thanks for sharing, and you know we are all still wondering how it came out with you and Billy, but guess we will have to wait for further installments. Best to you, Anna. tomp dd50
  5. prsdrat

    prsdrat Been here awhile

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    Yaaaaayyyy! Another shot in the arm of a favorite RR/soap.

    Keep it coming!
  6. Proveick

    Proveick Long timer

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    Highway 89 is indeed a great piece of road. Dad and I used to ride it from Lethbridge on our way to Yellowstone. Bringing back warm memories. You go girl. Cheers
  7. Gadget Man

    Gadget Man Out in the Garage...

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    Anna
    I just spent the last 3 days reading this entire story. It was the trip of a lifetime, thanks for sharing it all.
    I may never get the opportunity to take a ride of this calibure, so it was fun to travel along with you.
  8. skibum69

    skibum69 slave to gravity

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    Hey Proveick, not to sound too ornery on someone else's thread but it's common practice in the asylum not to quote the whole of large posts to add one sentence of reply. It's easy to just pick the relevant text or pic/s to quote. :D
  9. Salsa

    Salsa Been here awhile

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    amen !!!!!!!!!!!!!
  10. St_rydr

    St_rydr Strider

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    49 pages today. You not just living, you're living right.:clap
  11. tennyis

    tennyis Been here awhile

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    I have read through the entire thread and greatly enjoyed it! hope we get to hear more about your trip!

    I must have misread it but I thought originally billy was married, must have been someone else. Such an amazing way to meet someone, and what a story!
  12. e85racer

    e85racer n00b

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    Thanks Anna for writing your story! I just read 49 pages in 3 evenings and enjoyed every moment of it.
    At 40 years old with family, a job and a mortgage I can only dream of doing something like you did. I want my 20 year old son to read this to help inspire him as to what he is able to do BEFORE his adult responsibilities kick in!
  13. ruffntuff

    ruffntuff TUFRDR

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    Lane Splitting San Francisco

    Although I had my “Big City” cherry popped in Vancouver, I was still anxious about commuting in San Francisco. Like Jules in Vancouver, Lena was an excellent guide to help me determine my route from Oakland to the Zoo and back.

    From the house up in the hills of Piedmont, the closest BART station was a five minute drive. We parked at MacArthur and rode the train under the bay all the way to Glenn Park. There we hopped on a bus and arrived at the Zoo two hours after leaving the house. I was feeling a little overwhelmed with the commute I was going to be facing the next six weeks.

    I better learn to lane split.

    My first week commuting to the Zoo, I’d ride the Radian to the BART, and nervously leave it parked for the day. I never felt good about leaving it for long periods in a public area. Luckily nothing ever happened and it was nice I never had to pay to park like the rest of the cars in the lot. Two wheels are better than four.

    In contrast to my experience with public transport in Canada, I quickly became depressed spending hours on the Bart and the buses in San Francisco. My commute was twice as long in a city twice as big. I didn’t find the enjoyment in the different mode of transportation like I did in Vancouver. Instead I dreamt of being on the bike for my own sanity.

    I watched the majority, plugged into their ear buds, mesmerized by their Smartphones, oblivious to the world passing by around them. It was only the occasional few that made eye contact, only a couple that would say, “Good morning,” or “Excuse me.”

    I did not see familiar faces on my route, like I did in Vancouver. I saw a lot of angry people, sad people, and crazy people. It was kind of scary at times and made me just want to keep my head down.

    I felt alone, although surrounded, in my own world on my own journey. It reminded of my experience on the bus in Denali. I realized I felt more loneliness in a crowd, being just one of many like an extra in a movie no one notices. It’s not that I wanted to be noticed or seen, but when I was alone I felt more confident and happy with myself.

    After a week of commuting to the Zoo, I couldn’t wait to get out of the city. I was looking forward to a warm relaxing weekend on the farm by the Russian River.

    Billy picked me up from the Zoo and took me back to Oakland to get the Radian. Doubled up on his GS we split lanes through rush-hour traffic and it only took us 45 minutes to get to my house. It was way more intimidating riding on back of a bike, but I watched and learned and was determined to start riding to the Zoo the following week.

    On our way out of Oakland, I got my first go at it. Traffic was still backed up through “The Maze” and I followed right behind Billy at a slow 15-20mph between the cars. My arms were tight, butt clenched and I was tense but the further I went the more I relaxed and the fun began.

    “Oh this is going to be dangerous,” I chuckled. I realized I was going to have to set some rules for myself to avoid getting into trouble.

    Rule #1: Never lane split over 25 mph…..ok 35 mph.
    Rule #2: Never lane split close to on/off ramps.
    Rule #3: Only lane split between the far left lanes.
    Rule # 4: Only lane split when traffic is bumper to bumper….no gaps!

    On my first day riding to the Zoo I sat in traffic, terrified to pull out into the split lane. I felt like I was preparing to jump off a cliff. That paralyzing hesitation before committing to free fall only wound me up more. Stop thinking, stop thinking. Just go!

    Another biker whizzed by and woke me from my mind and I instantly wove out behind him. I had a leader to help me take that giant leap of faith. However, as soon as I got behind him I realized I had made a very naive mistake. I didn’t check my mirror before pulling out and there was another biker pissed off behind me riding my ass.

    Rule #5: Always check the lane before you pull out. Duh!!

    With more practice, lane splitting became easier and easier. I would only do it in short sections of traffic where I could easily see an obvious lane between the cars for me to ride through. Then I’d find an open spot behind a car to give myself a mental and physical break.

    I think it was the coming in and out of the split lane that was the most nerve wracking for me. Deciding when to go and where to stop all while controlling the bike was a lot to multi- task. I had to be very determined and committed to my decisions. I had to be confident and there was no time for hesitancy. It was exhausting.

    The actual riding in the split lane was the easy part. In general people would make room and there was plenty of space to cruise at 20-30mph between the cars. But occasionally I’d get to narrow spots between wide trucks that made me wince. I tapped several mirrors along the way, but I couldn’t really stop. It happens.

    It’s easy after splitting lanes on a regular basis to feel like the entire road is yours and the concept of lanes doesn’t exist at all. You can ride anywhere around any obstacle. The lines between the lanes almost become invisible and I’d have to remind myself when traffic started breaking up to stop ignoring them. It was hard not to forget the rules.

    As tempting as it was to weave through traffic at high speeds, I felt smarter sticking to the normal rules of passing. It’s an easy thing to forget on a bike in California. I saw many reckless riders I chose not to follow.

    The purpose of lane splitting in my mind is not only to allow riders to be seen in heavy traffic, but to help riders avoid extreme heat when it’s bumper to bumper. Unfortunately the luxury of lane splitting, like anything else, can be abused. That’s why I had to set boundaries for myself.

    But I’ll admit, once you lane split, it’s hard not to do it all the time. It becomes a desirable challenge for the thrill. It’s like solving a puzzle or working through a maze to find a way around obstacles executing fast decisions. It’s empowering and it’s fun.
    ONandOFF likes this.
  14. ruffntuff

    ruffntuff TUFRDR

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    So sorry for loss, I hope you are managing well and I'm happy my story can provide you with some comfort and relief. I'd be happy to meet you and any other reader that may live close by. Just send a PM and let's grab that beer! Take care,

    anna
    ONandOFF likes this.
  15. AVPU

    AVPU Forever Noob

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    Another installment! :clap
  16. Uke

    Uke visualist

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    Anna--

    As always, another great installment!
  17. doc4216

    doc4216 Chronic High Fiver

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    +1
  18. rodr

    rodr Been here awhile

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    I like your take on this. Living kinda out in the sticks I don't get to do this so much, but it sure is a nice option when the need arises!
  19. skibum69

    skibum69 slave to gravity

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    Excellent, I can totally see the similarities to bicycles. I just spent a few months in Taipei dicing it up in traffic on the fixie I had; it was a hoot. I haven't had the pleasure on a moto yet, but I'm sure it will come. Thanks for continuing your story for us.:D
  20. StickJan

    StickJan Mobilis in mobil

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    Anna. Another well written post! Thanks for the lesson! You have a fan here in old Sweden!

    //Jan